The Oneida Daily Dispatch (Oneida, NY)
Hochul signs tenant protection bill into law
Governor Kathy Hochul has signed a bill proposed by Senator Rachel May, D-onondaga, Madison, Oneida and Assemblymember Bill Magnarelli into law.
The Tenant Dignity and Safe Housing Act gives tenants a tool to help remedy poor living conditions caused by consistent housing code violations. It also creates a process in local housing courts where tenants can sue due to neglected conditions to fix violations of local or state housing standards and codes.
Before the signing, tenants had few options when facing deplorable conditions that landlords refused to correct. They could file reports that could end up go unaddressed for months or years, endure lengthy and costly lawsuits, or withhold rent and risk their landlord attempting to evict them for non-payment.
The act also allows courts to order monetary judgments or reductions in future rent for the diminished value of the property. And, the Office of Court Administration will now publish simple forms to make it easier for tenants and allows court clerks to assist tenants with completing the forms.
“Our home should be a place where we can be comfortable and safe; persistent conditions violations create an environment where neither of those is possible,” May said in a news release. “The ‘Tenant Dignity and Safe Housing Act’ gives tenants a way to ensure landlords maintain their properties, keeping them in good condition and improving the quality of our Upstate housing stock. I want to thank Governor Hochul for signing the bill and Assemblyman Bill Magnarelli for his sponsorship and hard work getting it through the State Assembly.”
Considering there are existing ordinances like this bill in New York City’s five boroughs, it will exempt New York City counties to avoid confusion on the part of tenants, landlords, and the court system.
“This has been a long hardfought battle to get the Tenant Dignity and Safe Housing Act to this point. Even though Syracuse Tenants Union did not get everything we wanted to be in this bill, it is a good first step in the right direction for tenants to feel dignity and safety in the homes they pay a significant amount of their income to,” Syracuse Tenants’ Union Founder Palmer Harvey said.